The Saratoga Sun -

By Liz Wood 

Lady Panthers stage second-half comeback win

 

Liz Wood

Panther Katie Loose and Snake River's Addie Stanely race to catch a ball before it goes out of bounds.

Even though the Saratoga Lady Panthers (5-4) were down by 12 at the half, they staged a second-half comeback led by junior Meredith Lincoln's 30 points. They pulled off a win against 1A Little Snake River Valley Lady Rattlers (1-0, 8-4) 63-61 Friday night on their home court.

In the final minute of the game, a timeout was called and head coach Scott Bokelman told his team, "We only want to shoot the ball if we know we can make the shot. We can't afford a turnover." The Panthers had a 5-point lead. "Pretty much keep the ball away and have them foul you and go from the free-throw line," Bokelman said. It's easier said than done, and something that Bokelman will be working on with the girls this week during practice, but they did force a foul.

Katie Loose made the first free-throw and missed the second. "It was a good thing she missed the second shot because it gave Snake River no time to score," Bokelman said.

In the first quarter, the Lady Rattlers scored 6 unanswered points before Lady Panther Justine Fourman sank a bucket from the field.

The Lady Rattlers kept a 6-point lead against the Lady Panthers with the first quarter ending 13-19.

The Lady Panthers were down by 12 points going into the halftime, 25-37.

In the third quarter the Panthers were on fire. Lincoln scored a 3-pointer 20 seconds into the second half to lead the team on their way. Thirty-three seconds later, Lincoln had another 3-pointer and closed in the score 31-39. The Panthers' man-to-man defense kept the Rattlers from adding to the board.

The Panthers returned with two quick buckets including another 3-pointer by Lincoln, closing the Rattlers lead to only 5 points.

The Rattlers widened the point spread again before Fourman scored a 3-pointer from the corner. Fourman repeated her performance from the corner and the crowd cheered. The Panthers had closed the gap to only 2 points with less than two minutes left in the third quarter.

Despite several attempts, the Panthers could not tie the score in the third quarter. The Rattlers scored again and with 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter Veronica Lincoln hit a bucket and ended the quarter 46-48.

The Lady Panthers kept the Rattlers within 2 points with Cruz Ecsobedo scoring. M. Lincoln's quick reflexes benefitted the Panthers as she would emerge from the Rattler's paint with the ball. M. Lincoln tied the score four-and-one-half minutes into the final quarter.

The Rattlers scrambled to score, but the Panthers defense kept them from getting a chance. Once again, M. Lincoln emerged with the rebound. Unfortunately, the Panthers turned the ball over and the Rattlers scored.

Peyton Fisher tied the score with a jump ball followed up by a fast break by M. Lincoln and for the first time in the game, the Panthers had the lead.

With two-and-one-half minutes left, M. Lincoln scored at the arc and another bucket to give the Panthers a 5-point lead with less than two minutes left in the game.

The Rattlers had two quick buckets to close in on the Panthers with 33 seconds left in the game, the Rattlers tied the game with a free throw.

M. Lincoln scored from the corner and the Panther crowd went wild. Katie Loose made the free throw ending the game 63-61.

Bokelman said in the first half the girls were not rebounding offensively very well. In the second half the Panthers shot the ball really well – with a 44 percent field goal and a 53 percent 3-point field goal. Bokelman said when you play good defense and shoot the ball really well, that is going to translate into a win.

The girls are gaining confidence and seeing how the hard work pays off, Bokelman said. "I asked them after the game if the week of hard practice was worth what they had tonight and they said it was."

Some people may think they were lucky with their 3-pointers, Bokelman said. "The harder we work, the luckier we get and we want to continue with that attitude."

Bokelman said the team is going to have games where they do not shoot well. "We will talk about it about at practice and what we have to do. It's a journey and we are learning as we go."

Liz Wood

Loose gives a big hug to assistant coach Mandy Moon as head coach Scott Bokelman congratulates the rest of the team on the Panthers 63-61 comeback win.

Bokelman said Fourman played really well. "She is very capable of being a great basketball player," Bokelman said. He was also complimentary of Cruz Escobedo, Kelsie Samson and Peyten Fisher who all came off the bench. Bokelman is also seeing improvement from Shaelee Hamaan. "She has been showing she can play very well as a sophomore ad without much experience," Bokelman said.

Friday, the Panthers travel to Burns with a game time of 3:30. Burns (9-0) is ranked No. 1 seed in the 2A Southeast conference.

On Saturday, the Panthers host Pine Bluffs at noon. The Hornets are ranked No. 3 seed in the conference.

Saratoga is currently ranked at No. 4 in the conference.

"Don't go in all jittery. We are facing two of the five top teams in the state back-to-back to see where we are at and where we want to go," Bokelman told the girls.

"We have nothing to lose, go in hard and relax."

 

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